Headaches can be alarming because people often think it could be a sign of something serious. A person with headaches should always discuss this with their doctor. In turn, the doctor can make a correct diagnosis of the type of headaches the patient is suffering from, and whether or not to see a headache specialist.
While headaches can be caused by something quite simple, like dehydration or fatigue, it could also be a sign of a more serious illness.
Most common types of headaches
Before taking a couple of pills when you feel a headache or migraine, take the time to notice your symptoms to make sure there isn't something more serious going on. There are four main types of headaches and each one reveals something about our health. Each one can tell you something about your body, and basically, they are the headaches that usually accompany us most often: we can suffer from tension headaches, migraines, cluster headaches and sinus headaches.
What headaches reveal about your health
Knowing what type of headache, you are experiencing can help you treat it correctly. While pain relievers can work for temporary relief, there are more natural options to help ease your pain as well.
1. Tension headache or tension headache
A tension headache is the most common type of headache. It feels like constant pain or pressure around your head, especially in the temples or the back of the head and neck. It can feel like a pain radiating above and below the eyes. A tension headache is not as serious as a migraine, so it does not usually cause nausea or vomiting. Experts believe that this type of headache can be caused by contraction of the muscles of the neck and scalp, and may be a response to stress.
How to treat it: Ginger tea can help reduce inflammation, and putting peppermint oil on your hairline can create a cooling sensation to relax your head and neck muscles. The combination of these two natural remedies will help eliminate the pain of a tension headache.
Migraines affect 38 million men, women and children in the US alone. They are most common between the ages of 25 and 55, but no matter what age, anyone could experience one too. A migraine is more than just a bad headache. It is an extremely debilitating collection of neurological symptoms. Includes severe recurring and severe throbbing pain on one side of the head (in about a third of attacks both parts are affected), accompanied by other symptoms which may include visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the face. This type of headache tends to radiate from the top of the face downward.
How to treat it: Vitamin B12 (riboflavin) has been shown to help those who suffer from migraines, as have omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. Make sure you are getting enough of these in your diet on a daily basis to help prevent migraine attacks. A 2011 study also found that aerobic exercise was as effective in preventing migraines as topiramate, a migraine preventive drug, concluding that daily exercise can be used as a substitute for medication.
3. Cluster headaches
Cluster headaches generally occur in one eye, and affect more men than women. A cluster headache is recurrent, and it can occur in a group or a cycle. A cluster headache can come on suddenly and cause severe, debilitating pain on one side of the head. When you experience a cluster headache, you may also experience a watery eye and nasal congestion or a runny nose. The cause is unknown, but this type of headache occurs when a nerve pathway at the base of the brain is activated.
How to treat it: The active ingredient in cayenne pepper is capsaicin. Applying a small amount of capsaicin cream to the nostril where pain is being experienced can help block pain signals from the nerve.
4. Sinus headache
A sinus headache occurs when a sinus becomes inflamed, and can lead to headaches. These headaches are caused by an infection, and are usually accompanied by a fever, and pressure around the eyes, cheeks, and forehead.
How to treat it: Drink plenty of fluids to hydrate your body. Hot water can help open your sinuses and reduce inflammation. Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants and can help the body fight infection, so eat a couple of oranges or other foods rich in vitamin C, or enjoy some green tea with lemon. You may also want to try a hot and cold compress, hot soup, and some fresh ginger, which contains anti-inflammatory properties and relieves pain.
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